Health insurance news - Neurological diseases could be on the rise
Experts have warned that the health service in England is facing a "time bomb" if it does not get to grips with neurological conditions and begin to deal with them correctly.
The Neurological Alliance, which represents over 70 groups, said that a combination of poor services and rising case numbers is likely to cause a number of problems in the future.
It has accused the NHS of keeping its “head in the sand” over conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
The alliance’s comments come after a report by the National Audit Office criticised the standards of care. It highlighted delays in diagnosis, poor information, badly coordinated follow-up care and varying degrees in access to services.
It said the situation meant that too many health insurance subscribers were ending up in hospital as emergencies that resulted in them being seen by staff that are not specialists in neurological conditions.
The alliance, which gave evidence to MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Committee earlier this month, said that higher priority needed to be given to this major issue.
There are currently more than 200,000 people in the UK with long-term progressive conditions that includes Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease.
This figure is expected to rise markedly in the coming years because of the ageing population. For example the number of medical insurance customers in the UK suffering with Parkinson’s is due to rise by a quarter to 162,000 by 2020, thus reinforcing it as the most common of the progressive diseases.
As has happened with stroke, cancer and diabetes, the alliance wants to see a neurology tsar appointed in order to help champion the cause at a national level.
Chairman of the Neurological Alliance Steve Ford said a crisis is looming but the government isn’t willing to do anything about it.
"When it comes to helping vulnerable people with a neurological condition, the government is floundering around in a fog of its own making," he continued.
Care services minister Paul Burstow added: "We know that care for people with neurological conditions is not good enough and we must do more. It is clear that too many people are not getting personalised support to suit their needs."
Burstow continued by stating that the government was looking to place more emphasis on the care of people with long-term conditions through further investment in services such as telehealth.
Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information using telecommunications technologies, which could be as simple as two health professionals discussing a specific case or as sophisticated as doing robotic surgery between facilities at different ends of the globe.
A report released by the Royal College of Physicians and the Association of British Neurologists last year suggested that services for neurological conditions are poorly organised and do not currently meet patients’ needs.
It suggested that the UK currently has the fewest number of neurologists per head of population when compared with other countries. It has one per 125,000 patients when compared with 40,000 in the US and the rest of Europe.